Recipe Review

I Tried Giada’s Viral Banana Bread Brownies to See If They’re Worth the Hype

published Sep 8, 2021
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Credit: Justin Burke

I’ve made a lot of Giada De Laurentiis’ recipes — pastas, salads, party appetizers — but I’d never made one of her desserts or baked goods before. So when Giada’s recent internet-famed banana bread brownies popped up on my Instagram feed, I knew I had to try them. Here’s what happened when I finally made a Giada De Laurentiis treat! 

How to Make Giada’s Banana Bread Brownies

The steps to make this banana bread-brownie hybrid are nothing out of the ordinary: Just place ingredients in a bowl, give a quick stir to bring them together, and bake. First, using a fork, mash together bananas, almond butter, coconut oil, almond milk, sugar, and salt until almost smooth (there will be lumps). Then, add almond flour, quick oats, and baking powder and fold them together using a rubber spatula until combined. 

Divide the batter in half and pour one half into a greased 8×8-inch pan and smooth it out into an even layer. Add cocoa powder and chocolate chips to the remaining batter and mix to combine. Pour the banana-chocolate batter on top of the plain batter and carefully spread until it is even. Bake for 40 minutes or until edges are crisp and the center is slightly set. Let cool completely at room temperature in the pan before cutting into squares and serving. 

Get the recipe: Banana Bread Brownies

Credit: Justin Burke

My Honest Review

I set my expectations high for these brownies — how could a mash-up of banana bread and rich chocolate brownies go wrong? Unfortunately, these brownies did not live up to their internet fame. With that said, this recipe isn’t a total loss — let me break down the pros and cons. 

Pros: I was hoping for an intense banana flavor, and these brownies delivered that. Even with the amount of chocolate packed into these brownies, the banana flavor shines. The brownies can be a bit fragile to handle, even after cooling completely. But I took Giada’s advice and chilled them in the refrigerator before eating. Doing this firmed the brownies up and let the flavors meld to amplify the banana-chocolate taste. The recipe is also vegan, low sugar, and gluten-free, which is a nice alternative to a typical brownie. 

Cons: I found the texture of the brownies to be a little off-putting, mainly from the coarse almond flour not fully “melting” into the batter to make a fluffy, chewy brownie I’m used to. Additionally, the quarter cup of oats isn’t enough to make it oat-based and give it consistent texture; rather it’s just a fleck of oat here and there, which felt like a game of “find the oat in the brownie.” 

There isn’t much sugar (only a tablespoon), leaving the brownies to rely on the natural sugars from the bananas and almond butter. As someone who practices restraint with sugar in baking, I think these brownies could use one or two more tablespoons of sugar to mellow out the intense banana and earthy almond flavors; the natural sugars are unfortunately not enough. And although it’s wonderful that these brownies are vegan and gluten-free, the ingredients required can be rather expensive — especially if you’re not regularly baking and cooking vegan and/or gluten-free.

I’m conflicted about this recipe. I like the idea of combining banana bread and brownies together, but I think if I want a banana-chocolate baked good I’ll just add chocolate chips to banana bread or add banana to my favorite brownie recipe. I’ll let you decide if you choose to make these brownies while I look for another Giada dessert recipe to try. 

Credit: Justin Burke

3 Tips for Making Giada’s Banana Bread Brownies

  1. Use very ripe bananas. Underripe bananas will not yield the right consistency and give the brownies a “green” banana flavor. Use bananas that are mostly brown. If using frozen bananas, make sure to thaw completely and strain the excess liquid that develops when frozen to prevent adding excess moisture to the batter. 
  2. Mash the bananas first with a fork, then whisk. For fewer lumps, mash the bananas first with a fork. Then add the almond butter, coconut oil, almond milk, sugar, and salt and use a whisk to get a smoother consistency. 
  3. Chill in the refrigerator before eating: The brownies are fragile, even after cooling completely. Chill them in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight to firm up the brownies and allow the flavors to meld and intensify for a more balanced banana-chocolate flavor.